SHALL we just talk about Lucas Leiva? Or just about Daniel Sturridge? Or do we need to address the big holes?
For big holes there were. Too many of them too often again. Liverpool are trying to do clever things — Emre Can as a split defender midfielder. Philippe Coutinho as a split midfielder forward. And when that goes well, which it does most of the time, Liverpool look a competent side, not a good one, not yet, but competent. But when it doesn’t, well, the aforementioned big holes.
The current shape is trying to mitigate all sorts but, the reason why football is still 11 people and the pitch is still the same size, whatever you do in zone X will kick on into zone Y. It’s good to be able to say this when Liverpool win, the worry is that the current shape leads to asking too much of footballers tactically across 90 minutes.
They have constant decisions to make about who goes where and when. They get the vast majority of those decisions correct, we mostly don’t remember the ones they get correct. We mostly remember the tiny minority they get wrong.
Liverpool closed down both the ball and space really well today. Apart from when they didn’t. And as soon as they don’t it all looks too easy. Far too easy. At which point other footballers look edgy and poorer than they are. The pitch was too big. Liverpool aren’t compact enough.
Liverpool were vastly superior to Aston Villa and they should always have won this game. But they might not have. They really might not have. It needed to be a little easier than it was.
Big holes done? OK then. Maybe not enough for some of you but you know what, good performances and winning needs some words too and so…
Lucas Leiva was magnificent today. Absolutely magnificent. He worked the frankly terrifying Traore out in five minutes. He thought his way through the football match brilliantly, clearly the smartest participant among any of the 22 on the pitch at any given moment. His passing was slightly off in patches but other than that it was a marvellous centre midfield performance, shuttling around the place. He’s a Liverpool player in the best possible sense. The manager kept him in cotton wool midweek and he was right to do so.
Daniel Sturridge is a Liverpool player in the best possible sense too. He’s always just about to score. Just about to find an angle and put the ball in the back of the net. Both his goals were lovely in different ways, one powered and one placed. He is constantly alive even when clearly not fully fit. He will also need the cotton wool treatment for the next few weeks.
Nothing is fixed here for Liverpool. It was good to see the attitude of score one more goal but nothing is fixed. Fixing things will take time. It always does. It’s a curiosity of this league season Liverpool are only five off the pace. They don’t deserve to be. They really don’t. But they do deserve three points today. Keep doing that and things will be fixed. But keep leaving big holes and things won’t.
That’s the problem with tightrope walking. And is it worth it? Are the current risks gambles worth taking? Are they helping enough?
Lucas Leiva is helping. Daniel Sturridge is helping. Danny Ings is helping. Albie Moreno is helping. Let’s help them that bit more. Help Liverpool win games and get on a run. Assess things. Resolve all situations. Even if it means travelling long distances.
Pic: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo